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Holiday Hope: Access Carroll provides ‘safety net’ of care for at-risk, low income patients

Dentist Anna Wu, right, and dental assistiant Gabriela Huerta see patient Julie Polk in the dental clinic at Access Carroll in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 2020.
Dentist Anna Wu, right, and dental assistiant Gabriela Huerta see patient Julie Polk in the dental clinic at Access Carroll in Westminster Tuesday, Nov. 2020. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Time/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Access Carroll has been providing medical, dental, and behavioral health care for at-risk individuals under one roof for 15 years.

This nonprofit organization opened Nov. 17, 2005 as a volunteer primary care clinic and has since grown into a much larger health care center. Services are provided on a sliding fee scale and primary medical care is provided by volunteer physicians, nurses and other experienced medical professionals.

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Access Carroll strives to remove traditional barriers to quality health care to help patients maintain good health and learn to manage acute or chronic illnesses.

“We’re the safety net, if you will, for health care here in Carroll County,” Access Carroll executive director Tammy Black said. " We’re the largest detox medication-assisted treatment outpatient facility in the county for ambulatory care, or outpatient walk-in services.”

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Access Carroll is one of five beneficiaries of Holiday Hope, the Times’ annual campaign aimed at driving donations to organizations that help those in need in the Carroll County community. Now in its 22nd year, Holiday Hope raised more than $120,000 for local nonprofit organizations last year. In addition to Access Carroll, the Times and partner NWSB Bank, a division of ACNB Bank, raise funds for Carroll County Food Sunday, Carroll Hospice, Human Services Programs of Carroll County and The Shepherd’s Staff.

From left, executive director Tammy Black and nurse practitioner Mary Lamberson with patient Jeremy Franks Tuesday at Access Carroll in Westminster Nov. 2020.
From left, executive director Tammy Black and nurse practitioner Mary Lamberson with patient Jeremy Franks Tuesday at Access Carroll in Westminster Nov. 2020. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Ti/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Access Carroll partners with the Carroll County Health Department, Carroll Hospital, LifeBridge Health, and The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County Inc. Together, these organizations make sure Access Carroll serves the community’s most vulnerable at-risk patients the best it can.

“Holiday Hope is a pretty important aspect of community awareness and raising support,” Black said. “First of all, it lets folks know that we’re here. If they have a loved one, or they themselves need help, we’re here to help.”

Black said Access Carroll is open seven days a week and serves approximately 10,000 individuals per year and the staff provides about 22,000 visits or so every year as well. The Holiday Hope campaign provides unrestricted funds for the organization that they can use in areas that need the most assistance.

Medical professionals at Access Carroll are seeing a lot of patients for all kinds of services such as re-housing case management, medication acquisition, coronavirus screening, and counseling.

They opened an emergency medical respite at the Carroll County Health Department over the summer to provide acute and post-acute care for homeless people who are too ill to recover from a physical illness or injury on the streets, but are not sick enough to be in a hospital.

From left, Dr. Joe O'Leary, Medical Director of Behavioral Health Sevices, LabCorp phlebotomist Larry Damer, certified medical assistant Mary Hernandez and nursing assistant Robin Black work Tuesday at Access Carroll in Westminster Nov. 2020.
From left, Dr. Joe O'Leary, Medical Director of Behavioral Health Sevices, LabCorp phlebotomist Larry Damer, certified medical assistant Mary Hernandez and nursing assistant Robin Black work Tuesday at Access Carroll in Westminster Nov. 2020. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Ti/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

“We’ve never closed down during COVID-19, we’ve never laid any of our staff off and we still have our full staff here,” Black said. “We’re providing a lot of essential services … we’re doing much better in terms of managing COVID-19 not just us, but as a community as far as the environment of care and making sure of our standardization and disinfection protocols.”

The Big Band Merry Christmas Concert, Access Carroll’s signature fundraising event, was canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and the organization is hosting a Spirit of Christmas campaign with hopes that it will help Access Carroll maintain its annual budget.

Black praised Access Carroll’s integrated care team of professionals of different disciplines that work together every day to make the organization successful.

“[We’re] pulling together all these different professionals, all these different disciplines under one roof to provide a very wonderful opportunity for patients to get all their health care needs met in one place that’s outpatient.”

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